Trump urged concerned Americans over the virus to try hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, arthritis and lupus that has not been tested, during a traveling and hostile White House briefing on Saturday thoroughly for other conditions.
” Take it. What do you have to lose? Said the president, suggesting that he could do it himself after asking “my doctors.”
But on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease doctor and a key member of the White House task force, was adamant that there was no suggestion that the drug had any benefit against the coronavirus.
“In terms of science, I don’t think we can definitively say it works,” he told CBS Face the Nation.
“The data is really suggestive at best. There have been cases that show that there can be an effect and there are others to show that there is no effect. “
Dr. James Phillips, professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University Hospital, said that Americans could risk their health if they followed the President’s advice to take medication for a condition for which he had not been tested.
“We don’t know enough to make medical recommendations,” he told CNN on Reliable Sources.
“It is a dangerous message for an unlicensed person to go up there and tell people to try it. You have to listen to the doctors, the people who understand the science, before you go into the medicine cabinet at will. “
Fauci was reluctant to directly criticize the president, with whom he speaks regularly, but found himself repeatedly contradicting the president over hydroxychloroquine, which became a workhorse during briefings at the White House.
On March 21, in the aftermath of another nationwide television assertion that the drug “looked promising”, Fauci was directly asked if it could be used to treat Covid-19.
“The answer is no,” he said.
Last month, an Arizona man died after he and his wife took chloroquine phosphate, an additive used to clean aquariums that is also found in hydroxychloroquine.
“Trump continued to say it was essentially a cure,” the man’s wife told NBC.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, about 313,000 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in the United States by midday Sunday and about 8,500 people had died.
Fauci agreed with White House messages that a dark period is looming in the battle against the virus and that the United States is “fighting” to control the pandemic.
“It’s going to be a bad week, unfortunately,” he said. “We have to be ready to say that even if the mitigation is clear, we will see … dead people. “
Fauci said there were glimmers of hope but that things should not get worse first.
“We have to hope that in a week, maybe a little more, we will start to see a flattening of the curve, and it will go down,” he said. “But the end result of that, you don’t see it for days, even weeks. Things are going to go wrong and we have to prepare for it, it will shock some.
“I will not say that we have it under control, it would be a false statement, we have trouble controlling it. “
Even after the crisis ended, Fauci warned, the possibility of a resurgence remained.
“Unless we control this situation globally, there is a very good chance that it will become seasonal. It is unlikely to be completely eradicated from the planet, “he said.
“This is why we are working so hard to improve our preparation, by pushing on a vaccine and performing clinical trials for therapeutic interventions so that, hopefully, if we see this resurgence, we will have interventions that we did not have at the start of the situation. we are right now. “